Children, Family, Uncategorized

Spiritual Conversation Prompts with Your Kids

Heaven's GatesIt’s an interesting thing to have a conversation with kids about spirituality. Sometimes we put our over-thinking onto our kids when they don’t have that issue. Younger kids take things at face value. They aren’t puzzled by unexplainable things to the extent that older kids and grown ups are. I have conversations with my kids as they show interest in a topic and only take it as far as their curiosity does. That is, give them information until they are satisfied and then leave the topic until another questions arises. So, I’ve put together some of our spiritual conversation prompts that really get the kids’ thinking juices bubbling:

1. What do you think Heaven looks like?

This is a great conversation and we’ve had many creative ideas of what Heaven looks like. I usually pause to allow my kids to envision the best, prettiest, most perfect place they can imagine. We talk about how there’s no tears in Heaven, how it’ll always be happy and beautiful. That we’ll see God and that we’ll get to talk to Jesus. The possibilities are endless. Outside of keeping the ideas aligned with perfection, I just let them imagine and describe what they imagine. I can’t say for sure if they’re right or wrong and I tell them I don’t know. And that’s OK to not know. The kids don’t seem to mind at all.

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2.

2. How are God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit Three and also One?

This is such an interesting question as an adult, let alone as a child. All through this conversation with the kids, at the end of the day, we don’t know for absolutely sure how this is possible. What I like to put out there for the kids to think about is that somethings of God are so outside of our ability to think through. And that’s ok. We’ll find out for sure when we get to Heaven. In the meantime, how I explain the trinity to my young kids is that the three operate as one- God. God the Father…always been, always is and always will be. God the Son- Jesus, who died for us and is our defender. He’s our filter. God looks at us through Jesus. And God the Holy Spirit- the Holy Spirit is the “mover”. He’s the action of God. So- distinctly three and yet one. And it’s ok if you can’t get your mind around it.

Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 1 Corinthians 8:6

3. How does God hear all of our prayers?

This is a good question that really causes us to realize how powerful God really is. When you start to dissect the impossibility of it (in the realm of humans), that’s when the awe sets in. God never sleeps, He hears every prayer. How is this possible?! How many people are there on Earth? And how many prayers are being prayed at any given time? The Bible tells us that God hears every prayer:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers of the people offered in this place. (II Chronicles 7:14-15)

Hearing a prayer is not the same as answering a prayer. And sometimes the answer is not the one that we want.  Now, this is a good segue into the next question.

4. Why does God sometimes not answer our prayer the way we want?

This is kind of tough question and it’s a great opportunity to teach the kids that God is not a genie waiting to grant them their every wish. God won’t give you a million dollars because you ask for it. The Bible says “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.- James 4:3”.

So the motive to just have money is the wrong motive. Asking God to help you find resources to further His Kingdom would be a more appropriate prayer. And even then, the answer God gives is one that is perfect in His plan, though it might not be the answer we want or expect. And that’s OK!!

5. Why do bad things happen to good people?

This question is a really difficult one and it’s one that grown-ups have trouble understanding. When I talk to my kids about this, I want them to understand that God isn’t behind the bad things happening to good people, Satan is. We live in a fractured creation (I love this description!) and because of the sin of the world, perfection isn’t here. Thinking of how big God is and how small we actually are, I remind my children that in the end God wins. God wins! Time in God’s realm is so much bigger than our time here on Earth. A day to Him is a thousand years to us. So, His plan isn’t finished yet. The bad things that happen aren’t the end. God’s plan isn’t finished yet. Until the day that God rights things, we have to live with sin and choose every single day to look toward God and to choose Him! His plan for us is secure far beyond the things of Earth.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

6. How did God make everything in six days?

Easy!! He’s God! This is a fun topic that doesn’t require too much technicality because kids’ imaginations allow them to see the “impossibility” as almost magical. And that’s ok. God made man out of the dust of the Earth. So he can literally do anything. And yes, in six days. Six mornings and six evenings. As we talk about the fantastical aspects of this, we move easily into how detailed God was in every single thing he created. How each thing is necessary to the other thing. Everything on Earth is connected and God created it that way.

You alone are the LORD You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.- Nehemiah 9:6

7. What will it look like when Jesus comes back?

Sometimes I’ll ask my kids this question when we see a remarkably beautiful sunset. You know what I’m talking about. The sunset with the humongous fluffy white clouds and the sun majestically outlining the clouds with fiery yellow. Sun rays beaming across the sky. This must be what it’ll look like when Jesus comes back! It’s a good starter for talking about what the kids imagine Jesus return will look like. And it usually leads to other conversation about how no one knows when he’ll return, about how we should always be ready for Him, and about how beautiful he will look when he comes to get us. My kids always think of this return as joyous and exciting. It’ll be unmistakable…it’ll be loud and everyone will see it!

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him. Revelation 1:7

8. How come I can’t hear God?

God wants us to get to know Him and we can do that through the Bible. His spoken word is in the Bible and though we can’t hear Him audibly right now, we can hear Him through His word. The scripture- parables, instructions, lessons and testimonies- all have the voice of God. We can “hear” God, but we have to listen differently than with our ears. As we study God’s Word, we will get to know Him. Keep studying and keep learning.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son . . . Hebrews 1:1-2

Children, Creative Ideas, Family

Do You Remember Paper Dolls?

Paper dolls 1This past weekend, girl child and I did something so fun! Do you remember paper dolls? Did you ever play with them? I sure did and I had hours of fun making up stories, changing outfits and having fashion shows! Oh, the memories! And the idea just hit me to see if I could show girl child the fun of paper dolls.

Paper dolls 2Now since this was a very last minute idea and paper dolls aren’t readily available on shelves, we had to improvise! So I found a picture of a front-facing Barbie doll online and then hunted for dresses that would fit on the doll. Once we got those all printed, I started girl child on cutting out the dresses. I cut the doll out and then traced her onto a thick piece of cardboard. I cut the outline out and then glued the doll onto the cardboard so she was stable enough to stand upright without bending over!

Girl child was enamored with the dresses we found online. Most were from the seventies, eighties and we even found a few from the roaring twenties! Time just flew by as girl child concentrated on the outlines of each dress. She even made her own tabs on the few dresses we found that didn’t have them.

Paper dolls 4We found a beautiful wedding gown, which instantly got girl child’s attention. It was kind of a complicated dress to cut out because of the bouquet but it was worth the effort. She was pleased as punch that she was able to have a wedding gown doll! And I was pleased that she wanted to keep all of her paper doll stuff safe when she asked for a ziploc bag. In fact, girl child was so happy with these paper dolls. She went back the next day to continue cutting out her dresses and trying them on her Barbie doll figure.

Even though we are in a high-tech, fast-paced world, paper dolls are such a fun and slower way to enjoy time with your little girl.

I will say that cutting out the doll, the cardboard behind the doll and all the clothes might be a bit much. So let me suggest a little purchase instead. Now, if you decide to buy these, I’ll get a little payment but I still think these would be great for some paper doll fun! It’s called Fancy Nancy’s Perfectly Posh Paper Doll Book and it’s only $4.00!

Whichever way you go, be sure to introduce your daughter to paper dolls. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon in an imaginary world!

Children, Family, Uncategorized

8 prayers I pray for my children

8 prayers I pray for my childrenSo often I find myself wondering what kind of world we are leaving our children. It is in these moments that I find myself silently praying for my kids and most often it’s one of these 8 prayers I pray for my children. Mind you, these prayers aren’t lofty nor are they spoken aloud. These are the silent, constant prayers that mothers find themselves praying.

Whether it’s in specific thought, or during those times when sleep evades us…when tragedy strikes another family and we are counting our blessings while grieving with them. A mother’s prayer is constant. It’s a bath of protection and blessing and desires and hopes and faith…a jumbled mess we hand over to the Father. These are 8 prayers I pray for my children.

I pray for my children’s safety

Our world is so dangerous. Some may say it’s always been dangerous, but I see it creeping precariously close to the safety of the home. People are becoming more evil in how they would harm children or how they would harm random people, no matter the age. I pray for my children’s safety. I pray for God to protect them with warrior angels. Warriors. To fight the evil that exists around us at all times. So I pray for my children’s safety. As Girl Child has prayed for, “the strongest bubble that no one can break through!”.

I pray for my children to stay close to each other

This one sits in the back of my mind and I pray on it when it bubbles to the front. I pray my children remain close friends. Hopefully we will be around for a long time but when we are gone, my children will have each other. And I pray that they rely on each other and confide in each other. I pray that they look out for each other and keep up with each other. They can still irritate the mess out of each other because that is sibling right, but at the end of the day I pray that they always love each other. It’s simple but it’s important.

I pray for my children’s future spouses

Yep. And I know many other parents who do the same thing. I pray for my son’s wife and my daughters’ husbands. And I pray for their safety and I pray for God to guard their hearts and minds. That they are immersed in God’s Holy Word and I pray for their health. I pray that God helps them to make good decisions along the way as they are growing. It’s all important…from childhood to adulthood and these future spouses need to be bathed in prayer just as much as my own children are.

I pray for my children’s hearts

I pray that the seeds we plant in their hearts about their Heavenly Father are deep-rooted, healthy and strong. That they will judge everything they encounter with the knowledge they gain each day from studying the Bible and that the world is no match for God’s promises. I pray that they have joy in their hearts that cannot be taken away.

I pray for my children’s sweet dreams

Sweet dreams. Sleep is the place for rest and recuperation from a busy day. I pray for sweet dreams for my children so that their sleep is truly restful. So that their bodies can rejuvenate and be ready for the next day of learning and excitement. Sweet dreams ensure peace whereas nightmares causes anxiousness. So I pray they are able to rest and that their imaginations will deliver wonderful stories to them throughout the night.

I pray for what my children will become when they are grown

I can only imagine now what each child will become or where their interests will take them. So I pray for what they will become because all of that starts now while they are young. What they’re exposed to, what captures their interest, what comes naturally to them…it starts now. I pray that they find something they are truly good at and something that grabs their interest. And I pray they love what they become.

I pray for my children’s happiness

Happiness is a luxury and I pray my children have an abundance of happiness in their young lives. I pray they see the happiness in their world. That they see the joy in the little things all around them. I pray that their happiness is infectious and that they share it with as many people as possible. And I pray that their happiness only grows and that they enjoy being happy.

I pray for my children’s childhood

Their childhood is so very important. So many children no longer get to have a real childhood because they are forced to grow up so quickly. Perhaps it is how fast our world is with technology. I pray my children are able to hold fast to their childhood and that they enjoy their time for as long as possible. I also pray that we are able to protect their childhood and we are able to shield them from whatever seeks to steal our children’s childhood away from them.

So I pray for them all the time. Sometimes with words, sometimes my prayer is simply the thoughts in my mind and on my heart. But I pray for my children. Every day.

Children, Children's Bible Study, Family

Being a Good Friend- Children’s Bible Study

Being a Good FriendWe are so excited to announce our newest children’s Bible study, hot off the press! This Bible study is called ‘Being a Good Friend’ and it’s geared toward younger children so it’s a simple but effective walk through scripture passages each week night over the course of a month. Each day highlights a Bible verse that talks specifically about friendship. Of course the greatest display of friendship was when Jesus laid His own life down for His friends so moving through these scriptures with your children will give them a clear understanding of what a good friend looks like, both being a friend to others and also what a friend should look like to your child.

This is a great time to talk about being a good friend with school starting back up. It’s so easy for children to gravitate toward unhealthy relationships in school and in the neighborhood. But when you plant seeds of scripture in their hearts when they’re young, they will better be able to discern between good and not so good choices. And when they find friends that bring out their very best, your children will grow in healthy and strong relationships that they will come to depend on when things get tough.

As far as Bible study goes, you can never start too early with your children. This simple, quick study gives you the time with your child to study the scriptures together. For you to model what Bible study looks like, and for your child to begin her journey with Christ.

Encourage your child to journal during the process- for him to write down his thoughts. And for her to put into her own words what the scriptures mean to her. Not only will you have a precious keepsake, but your child will be developing Bible study skills along the way.

We sure do hope you like this simplistic children’s Bible study. And we pray that this precious time with your child is a blessing to you. Here’s the link for you to sign up to receive the free Bible study: Bible study

Children, Creative Ideas, Family, Uncategorized

You’re invited to a tea party!

tea party invitationEarlier this year, Girl Child had a birthday party. And it nearly got away from me. She had asked for a tea party…a fancy one. With pretty things. And real tea. And tea cups.

My imagination started running wild with possibilities and ideas. Can you even imagine how adorable a little girl’s tea party would be?? Of course I started with the invitation- you can buy this template from Etsy here.

Tea Party decorations

With some brain-storming and lots of lists, here’s what I came up with. And mind you, saving money was the name of the game here.

So, how do you organize a little girl’s tea party without breaking the bank? Dollar Store, my friend. I was able to get a bunch of things that translated into fancy for very little money here. Things like “silver” plates, paper doilies, pink artificial flowers, pink crinkle paper, glass vases, toy pink bead jewelry, pink feathery boas, pink polka dot paper party plates, party favors…I picked up everything that looked delicate, fancy and formal. And I walked out spending $23. Thank you very much!

Once I had a lot of pink things for the tea party, I had a basic idea of what I wanted to spread to look like. The center-piece of the party, if you will. From there, I started rummaging throughout my house to find anything that looked like it belonged in a tea party. I found my grandmother’s old linens, small tea cups and tea pots, little teddy bears with lacy dresses and high tea hats, jewelry boxes, several unique tea pots, ceramic floral serving plates…all sorts of things.

Tea party spread

The idea here was to make a long table that would have all the food and tea spread out and have it nestled among all the pretty things so it would be a treat for the eyes to find the little treasures that gently say “yes this is a fancy tea party!”

Next up is the goodie bags. I didn’t want to use plastic bags because plastic bags do not say “fancy”! Instead, I used brown paper lunch bags and I folded a small doily evenly over the top. I then punched two holes in the top and tied the bag with brown twine. A simple and sweet way to deliver magical bubbles, a glow-in-the-dark wand, some bracelets and candies to attendees of the party.

tea party table decorationsEventually, I had to make a trip to Hobby Lobby to get some other items but I really tried to keep my purchase small because Hobby Lobby has the ability to make me see and buy things I didn’t know I needed!

So I bought a pink cupcake holder with sweet pink toile accents, tissue poofs for the wall decorations, floral paper napkins, and little bows to tie around the napkins with pink, plastic forks and spoons. My mother-in-law had small tea cups that were perfect for the girls and each one was beautiful and unique!

tea party spreadThe food: A friend graciously baked the cupcakes for us and they were amazing, of course! We went with ham and cheese tea sandwiches and used princess cookie cutters to cut the sandwiches into little castles, high heel shoes and crowns. My mother-in-law and I made an assembly line to cut up 48 sandwiches! We had strawberries that I dipped in melted white chocolate and then dipped in sprinkles. I served carrots, cookies, apples and grapes along with our main event of hot tea.

I had different flavors of tea available for the attendees to choose from. And we had little sugar cubes, which the girls just loved!

tea party activitiesWe had some crafts, coloring and a game of balance the sugar cube on the spoon relay race, which the girls all loved. And thanks to my sweet mother-in-law, each girl got to take home her tea cup as a special keepsake!

All in all, the tea party was a success and I managed to keep the cost down to just under $125 for everything!

 

 

Children, Family, travel, Uncategorized

Fun things to do with little kids- Washington DC

Fun Things Washington MonumentTraveling to Washington DC is an experience. Try doing it with three little kids! Actually it is possible to have a great time in DC even with little feet. We’ve put together a list of fun things to do with little kids when you’re in Washington DC. We have tried to be budget conscious, which can be challenging in such an expensive city! With some stamina for walking and by looking for a deal, this can be a great experience for the whole family. So come along with us and see what DC has to offer for a family with small children.

Udvar Hazy Air & Space Museum

Fun things Udvar Hazy DiscoveryAdmission is free (awesome!) but parking is $15.

First on the list of fun things for kids is the Udvar Hazy Air & Space Museum is part of the Smithsonian; however, it’s not located near the National Mall like the other museums. This museum is located near Dulles International Airport, close enough that you can see planes on their initial take-off or final decent. IMAX movie (if you choose to see one, though there’s plenty to do without it) is $9.50 adults, $7.50 kids. Plus, if you save your ticket stub, you can see another IMAX at any of the Smithsonian locations for $6 each.

On display at the museum is a Concord jet, an SR-71 Blackbird and the space shuttle orbiter Discovery in all her majesty. The museum beautifully displays hundreds (maybe not “hundreds”, but certainly a lot!) of various planes, gliders, helicopters and flying gadgets throughout the oversized hangar facilities. In addition, there is the Mary Baker Engen Restoration hangar, which was working on Neil Armstrong’s space capsule while we were there! You can walk along a huge glassed-in balcony so you can see most of the hangar and all the projects currently underway.

Another cool feature is the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower. Guests take an elevator up seven stories to a 360 lookout tower similar to an air traffic control tower. From here you can see for miles in all directions as well as watch planes take-off and land at Dulles International Airport.

Thanks to McDonald’s there’s a McCafe for lunch or snack and a gift shop to guilt you into buying toys for the kids before you leave. Special note: no pocket knives or weapons of any kind are allowed in the facility. Plan to stop for bag checks upon entering but the line moves quickly.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Fun things Natural History MuseumAdmission is free (awesome again!)

Our next item in our fun things for kids list is the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. This place is jam-packed with things to see and our kids had so much fun wandering around the exhibits. They enjoyed seeing animal bones, mummies, a live insect zoo, the ocean hall and a current display of the Hope Diamond along with other gems and crystals. There’s a live butterfly exhibit (tickets required, but they’re free) so you can walk among fluttering, colorful winged creatures.

At lunchtime we found a restaurant (it’s DC, so it was kind of pricey…) called Pavilion Cafe. Kids ate hotdogs and peanut butter & jelly and there are lots of good lunch options like beef brisket, lunchtime gourmet salads, tuna salad sandwiches and the like. Where the lunchtime price got away from us was dessert…but they did not disappoint and all left lunch full and happy!

Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Fun things national zooAdmission is free! (Awesome again, y’all!)

The National Zoo opens at 8:00am, though no one told the animals! The buildings inside open at 9:00am and the concessions opens at 10:00am during the summer. We took Uber since it was too far for little feet to walk (and since we’d be walking once inside the zoo). Parking is a mess…not very many spaces to park and for the few spaces available, the cost is $22 so be warned.

We went during the summer so it is hot! The layout of the zoo is not so much a circle, but a main wandering path with side shoots of things to see. So there’s a lot of walking and it’s best to think through your route so you don’t get stuck hot and tired at the opposite end of the zoo.

National Monuments

fun things Lincoln memorialFree, free, free and free!

Of course, a day of wandering around on foot to see the monuments and landmarks around the national mall is a fun, free option. You’ll see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the White House, the Capitol and many others. And with little feet may come big complaints of being tired after a bit of walking so plan accordingly. You may split up the sight-seeing into smaller segments. Take advantage of the Metro or Uber to get you to your next destination or back to your hotel for a little rest.

Other Items of Interest

Our visit to Washington DC was only four days long so we quickly ran out of time. But there is lots more to see and do in the city for young children. These are definitely on our list for our next visit:

Don’t forget to wander around the neighborhood a bit to see the local sights and sounds. The area is mostly walking friendly and the drivers are accustomed to walkers. So you don’t get the feeling you’re about to be run over when you choose to walk. The foot paths are nice and the bridges are old and full of character. The Potomac River runs through Washington DC. So there are parks and areas where you can rent paddle boats in the National Harbor.

In the summer time, you’ll find the Georgetown Waterfront Park featuring a splash area for kids to cool off. Also, don’t forget to visit the hotel pool for a break in sight-seeing. If you’re lucky, you might score a rooftop pool like we did and get a panoramic view of the city.

We found low cost, unique burger joints, pizza places and the best ice cream sandwich shop near George Washington University called Captain Cookie and the Milk Man. How cute is that?! And they did not disappoint! We found tons of great little spots like this and they’re all nestled among the hotel neighborhoods.

Transportation

Fun things MetroThe Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, also known as Metro, provides train and bus service throughout the area. To use the train, riders must purchase a SmarTrip card and put funds on the cards. Children 5 and under ride free. Fares fluctuate during the course of the day based on the ebb and flow of rider traffic. You can buy the cards and reload funds easily at any terminal. And there are Metro stations littered all over the DC area.

Don’t forget you can most likely walk to your destination. With little kids, that can be tough. Our kids are quite accustomed to walking about 3 miles in a day (4, 7 & 8 year olds…not bad, eh?) so they fared well, but keep an eye on weariness because that’ll suck the fun out of any sight-seeing and I know I’m not telling you brand new information! Just know you have options with transit and Uber if you get caught with kids who’ve just had enough.

You can use Uber for wherever the Metro rail doesn’t quite make it (like the National Zoo). Schedule a pick up online (and add a tip now, too!) and they’ll zip you right to your requested destination. You have a 15 minute pick-up window and a friendly driver will meet you where you are.

So go enjoy the nation’s capital and don’t be afraid to walk around the city. It’s very bustling and in our experience, a very family-friendly area. There’s a good police presence and generally, we found that the drivers in the area were patient with walkers. There’s lots of sidewalks and the crossing lights are very generous. If you ever get tired, there are Uber drivers wandering around just waiting to take you to your next destination.

Happy traveling!

 

 

Family

Top 10 things I’m usually worrying about right now

I’m a worrier. Big surprise to my family (no, it’s not). I find things to worry about if my worry plate isn’t currently full. I worry. A lot. About all kinds of things, the odds of which happening are probably slim to none. And yet, there I am…worrying about it. I’m really hoping there are other parents out there who feel at least some of these.

Ok, so here goes. Don’t laugh at me…I worry:

 

 

That most people don’t really like me. Oi-vey. Starting out with a doozy. My tough exterior says “who gives a crap if you don’t like me” but the inside says “but why? I haven’t done anything bad to you…what’s wrong with me?” and I hate, hate, hate that. I hate that I feel this way, but alas…there it is.

That I’ll die way earlier than I should and leave my family to fend for themselves. I know, this is just silly to invite this kind of worrying. See? I have an objective, logical side. But what if this happens?? Who will balance the checkbook?

That I’ll lose my job and won’t be able to provide for my family? ugh…I can’t even piece this one together. I spend a lot of time worrying and game-planning a worst-case scenario for this one.

That I don’t pay good enough attention to my kids. I don’t. I know I don’t. There’s just not enough time in the day to give them what they want and deserve from me. And the real kicker is that I give work my best and my kids get the crap left over. How backwards is that?! And I know they’re only young for so long, so time’s ticking on this worry.

That I don’t pay good enough attention to my husband. Again…I know I don’t. Fortunately for me, he’s very, very understanding and patient. He’s such a good friend to me. I know he deserves better and I think “soon I’ll have more time” but you know what? That doesn’t ever happen. Stink! I have to figure out a way to fix this. Append this worry to have a subcategory: 5a) I worry that I’ll never free up enough time to give to my sweet husband.

That I keep having to throw away perfectly good meat I bought at the store because I was too tired/ lazy to cook dinner during the week. Ugh…this drives me nuts and makes me feel like I’m throwing away money. Because I am!! Dangit. This worry is simply a confirmation of the lack of time, giving the best of me to the wrong places worry set I’ve mentioned earlier. I hate when this happens. I plan, I budget, I find good deals. And then I throw it all away because I’m just tired. So tired.

That someone might break into our house. Ah, yes…my go-to worry when everything else in the day went right somehow. Yes…this worry pops up when I have just entered drowsiness in my comfy bed. In the dark, coolness of my bedroom I hear something. What was that? The house settling? But it sounded a little different…maybe someone is downstairs. Nonsense. But…what if?? I should go check the kids. Of course, it’s nothing. But now I’m really awake and my senses hyper-focus on Every. Little. Sound.

That our house will burn down. ugh…this one drives me nuts because it usually invites itself on vacation with us. Although at least I can temper this worry with the fact that our house alarm will go off and we will receive a phone call from the alarm company advising us of a fire alarm at the house. So…I wait for the call.

That our refrigerator will break at the same time as the dishwasher and oven. I know, this seems like really inviting worry, but each of these appliances have been giving us little hints about their future plans. And with my luck, they’re at home this very minute in the planning stages of a coordinated attack on our budget.

That I will never reach my goal. I am worrying about it a bit…but I keep plugging away at it.

 

So there you have it. And while I’m by no means a master of my worrying, I do keep this handy and it calms me when my worry starts to pounce on my sanity:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

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Children, Family

She’s kidding right? I’m sure she’s kidding…

Each one of our kids have wild imaginations. And wildly different imaginations. Girl child is all over creativity and storylines, fairytales and fashion. Boy child is an engineer at heart…he’s methodical and precise. He designs and invents things, and his attention to detail on his drawings is something to behold. And then there’s baby girl. Now she has a great imagination as well…she lines up her stuffed animals for class, she prepares dinners in her kitchen to serve at her restaurant and she’s the only child to have an imaginary friend.

Baby girl’s friend’s name is Sweetie and she’s a puppy dog. Now this puppy dog shouldn’t be confused with her stuffed animals who are dogs: Belle, Puppy, Frankie, Spots, etc. Sweetie is a dog we have never met. And she doesn’t live with us. She lives at baby girl’s “other house”. We’ve heard about Sweetie for awhile and baby girl has big plans for her playdates withSweetie when she comes over. We’ve heard about Sweetie’s likes and dislikes. We’ve heard about the time Sweetie was sick, when she was injured and when she ran away.

Lots of exciting stories surrounding Sweetie.

But a few months ago, Baby girl said something to us that kind of caught us off guard.

“Tomorrow I’m leaving to go to my home with Sweetie.”

Um…excuse me, what?

“Yes, I’m leaving. But I’ll come back and visit you.”

Now, most of me thinks this is part of her elaborate imagination at work so I leave it. But then she mentioned it again later. And again even later.

“Tomorrow I’m leaving to go to my home with Sweetie.”

So I ask her where her home is. “It’s about ten minutes away.” Of course it is…she can’t tell time. I ask her what her home looks like. “It’s all brown with big windows and a door and there are no stairs.” (For the record, not at all what our house looks like) I ask what Sweetie looks like. “All black with a few white spots on her front.” So I ask her why she’s leaving her family. “Because Sweetie needs me.”

This is interesting and just a teeny bit concerning. I ask why Sweetie can’t live with us. “Because Sweetie likes it at my other house.”

So I try to call her bluff. I mean, how in the world can she say she’s leaving us for a fake dog!

“Ok, well, I’ll help you pack in the morning. I hate to see you go and I’ve really enjoyed having you live with us. We’ll be so sad when you go, but I guess since Sweetie needs you, you have to go.”

I see the thought work its way through baby girl’s brain. She’s starting to realize what leaving to go to her other home will mean. I see these wheels spinning so I drive it home.

“I guess we’ll give your bed and toys to another little child who can use these things since we won’t need them anymore.”

And then I see the crocodile tears welling up in baby girl’s eyes. uh-oh…too far. Reel it back in. Quickly.

“Of course…if you would like to stay with us, that would make us so happy because we don’t want you to go. How about you stay with us and Sweetie can come stay with you. She can even sleep in your bed with you so she won’t be scared. how does that sound?”

Suddenly a huge grin appears on baby girl’s face and she is relieved. “Yes, yes, yes!!! Sweetie will love to live here!” I tell her that her other home will be great when she’s grown up because she’ll have a place to live that’ll still be close to Momma and Daddy. This is the best idea in the whole world and baby girl is once again happy and off to something else.

So, yeah, baby girl’s imagination? We need to watch out for the colossal stories coming out of that brain or I’ll end up with a hole in my roof to fit the imaginary dragon she befriends!

 

Children, Family, Family Finances

Fun Doesn’t Have To Cost Much!

Kids toys are expensive. And on top of being expensive, my favorite part of kid toys is that the kids usually get bored of them relatively quickly considering the price. So, what you end up having is a bunch of toys the kids ignore until you go through with the donate bag, at which point those toys become a most prized possession.

What I think we sometimes forget is how important the imagination is and I’m guilty as well. There’s so much available and for some reason we’ve put this thing on us to have to entertain our kids every waking moment. Again, guilty. The times I see my kids “miserable” with boredom, my first instinct is to create magic for them. But the times I held strong and said “go figure it out” to my kids when they present me with their boredom? Magic happens.

Case in point: sweet husband had a character building class with younger boys that he taught at our church. One of the group games he had them play was a cup stacking game- which team could create the highest tower of cups without it falling over. So, he bought cups at the dollar store. A ton of cups! And at the end of the program, we were then the proud owners of these cups. We had them in a milk carton box and put them in the kitchen when we returned home from church. No sooner had we put the box down, the kids had grabbed the box and had begun to play with the cups.

They played and played and played. They played the next day. They built forts. They stacked them. They knocked them over. They were in fits of giggles and laughter. They played bowling with the cups.

The only down side was the reluctancy the kids had in cleaning up…that part is a work in progress, I guess. But this generally got me thinking about what makes a great toy for kids.

Empty boxes, paper towel rolls, empty milk containers, plastic (or paper) cups, small wooden blocks, jump ropes, blankets, clothes pins…I know some of these sound like the kitchen trash, but these objects open up so many possibilities to let kids figure out on their own what to do with the objects. What to make from them. How to use them together. Inventing things with them. Designing things with them.

I know this isn’t brand new information and I know it’s not cutting edge advice, but I’ve seen more success in playtime and boredom busters with these type of objects over complicated gadgety toys. Granted the mess is big so be forewarned about that. But I will say I can deal with this kind of mess over lots of little pieces of toy crap laying all over the place.

Give it try if you don’t already…give your kids some generic objects and see what they do with them.

PS…You’ll be a long-time hero if you have a refrigerator box!

Children, Family

Hangman

IMG_4314.JPGI recently played a game of Hangman with four-year-old Baby Girl. Now before you faint from her ability as a four-year-old to not only think of a word, but spell it out mentally and provide the corresponding tick marks where each letter goes please know that this is not how this game works for her.

I love her dearly and think she’s a smart little cookie but she cannot spell. Well, that’s not true…she can spell her family’s names and her own name. Outside of that…don’t bet on it.

So, we played Hangman on the back of a paper kids menu while waiting for our dinner at a restaurant.

I went into this game the way I go into a hearty game of checkers with Baby Girl…there are no rules, but try to keep the game “looking” somewhat like it’s supposed to. She’s good with that. And also, when you play these games with her…really play them. She can spot a phony opponent a mile away.

So here we are…playing Hangman. Her rules are basically this:

She draws the Hangman noose apparatus thing? Then she draws out a bunch of tick marks where the letters go. She’s a fan of big words (read: a lot of tick marks). Sometimes it looks like I’m guessing the letters that make up a sentence. Now we are ready for the game to begin… well, a few snide remarks from Girl and/ or Boy Child about her inability to spell words followed by a quick admonishment from a parent and now we are ready to begin.

Occasionally, I do something outside of the rules and boy, she calls me on it…the little stickler! But, rules are rules so what are ya gonna do?! I say “oops, I forgot!” and we keep moving along.

Her sparkly eyes, her impish smile and her little elbows on the table…one hand holding up her head, the other hand playing impatiently with the crayon she has methodically chosen…

“Pick a letter, Mommy!” she says.

So I do…I pick a letter she loves to write. Lately, it’s the letter ‘R’. And without fail, that was a correct letter. Imagine that!

We go through this process many times and I pick the letters she loves to write…K, X, S, R, L, M (she knows this is Mommy’s favorite letter because, well, “MOMMY! That’s your letter!”)

Every once in a while, for the letters that aren’t in her current favorites list, she’ll say, “nope!” and start to draw the cutest hangman in the hanging thingy. And she’s giddy with delight!

Now for those of you who are sticklers to rules and playing by them, this game will kill you. Literally. Because what you have at the end of this fun game of Hangman is a bunch of letters that don’t spell anything. Although Baby Girl will tell you what it says…something like “Mommy is my best buddy” or “I love to eat yogurt”.

If you ever get the chance to play a game like this with a little one, put your OCD away for a bit and watch the magic unfold! It’s a beautiful thing to watch a little mind work.

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